Re: Getting Phryne’s Style

Inspired by Miss Fisher’s Mysteries? Want to dress more like Phryne? Luckily, adding a 1920s flare to your modern wardrobe has never been easier.

Phryne's Black and White Coat

Inspector Jack Robinson (Nathan Page) and Phryne Fisher (Essie Davis) in a black and white coat with an Oriental design.

Add a jacket or cardigan. One of the things that immediately strikes the viewer is Phryne’s wardrobe of eye-catching jackets. The jacket, duster, or cardigan frequently functions as the statement piece with the rest of the outfit solid-colored and simple. Jackets are very in fashion nowadays, but you’ll have to use a number of different search terms to find them. Use “kimono”, “jacket”, “shrug”, “cardigan”, and “duster” and see what you can pull up.

Another option is to create your own shrug or jacket from a long, rectangular scarf, shawl, or stole. Fold the stole in half length-ways and knot the short ends together to form sleeves. If the shrug is falling off your shoulders, tie another knot about 6-12 inches away from the first one, further down the arm of the jacket. Slip your arms through the sleeves and voila! instant shrug. When I was a young dancer, we would use small veils (about 72″ long and 36″ wide) to make shrugs for our bellydance costumes. You can also sew the sleeves partway closed in order to form a more permanent jacket.

Phryne's Cream Cardigan

Phryne (Essie Davis) sports a scarf made of assuit, a vintage Egyptian textile very popular in the 1920s, over her cardigan.

Add a scarf. Indoors or out, Phryne is often seen wearing scarves, usually long rectangular ones. If your local department store isn’t carrying anything you like, try the on-line shops of major museums (e.g. the Metropolitan Museum of Art). Museums often sell smart scarves as part of their revenue-generating efforts.

Use your costume jewelry in innovative ways.  One of Phryne’s brooches, for example, will appear variously as a hat decoration, scarf pin, and robe closure.

Phryne's Embroidered Black Coat

Phryne in another one of her fabulous coats, this time a long black duster with embroidered trim.

Experiment with ethnic designs and textiles. In the 1920s, there was a lot of fascination with the Far and Near East on the part of the general public and the fashions and accessories of the time reflect that. This was the era in which King Tut’s tomb was discovered among other things. Today, there is a similar vogue for ethnic designs so take the opportunity to add a print blouse (or scarf) to your wardrobe.

Go for a clean, streamlined look with strong, intense colors. Although Phryne can and does wear pastels, more often than not, she favors deep colors such as navy blue, black, and winter winter. Black and white together is a favorite color combination for her. When she wears prints, they tend to be simple geometric designs such as circles. And while we see her wearing fancy ballgowns from time to time, mostly she wears very non-fussy pieces–wide leg pants, sleeveless blouses, short jackets, tear drop earrings.

 

Re: Miss Fisher’s Mysteries

Range of Phryne's Outfits

“Dot, a woman should dress first and foremost for her own pleasure. Having grown up in second flannels, there is nothing quite so divine as the feel of silk underwear, the touch of soft fox, the slither of a satin skirt. If these things happen to appeal to men, well… really that’s a side issue.” Miss Phryne Fisher, Murder a la Mode

I have only recently discovered the wonderfulness that is Miss Fisher’s Mysteries, an Aussie detective series set in 1920s Melbourne, following the adventures of “lady detective”, the Honorable Phryne (fry-nee, rhymes with briny) Fisher and am totally captivated. Phryne is the woman that we all want to be–witty, resourceful, and fighting for the rights of the underdog–whilst still looking fabulous in a dazzling array of 1920s outfits.

I love the fashions of the 1920s and Miss Fisher’s Mysteries is a buffet of delights. Naturally, the person with the best clothes is Phryne herself played by the divine Essie Davis (The Babadook, Lady Crane on Game of Thrones Season 6).  Phryne’s family, headed by her drunken gambler father, lived in poverty until her father inherited money and a title (the other heirs having died during the Great War). Fine clothes are, in part, Phryne’s way of making up for the deprivation of her childhood. Phryne is a liberal minded woman with an interest in the arts so her clothes reflect her modern, non-traditional, fashion-forward perspective.

Phryne's Linen Hat

Phryne Fisher (Essie Davis) in her linen hat and car coat.

One of the things that I like about Miss Fisher’s Mysteries is that Phryne is shown wearing the same costume items (in several different ways) throughout the episodes just as a real person would. The linen hat and car coat (above) make a number of appearances throughout the series. While Phryne wears a number of different hat styles, the curved brim hat tends to be her signature look. The brim echoes the curve of Phryne’s bob and draws the viewer’s eye to the actor’s face.

Dot and Phryne in her harlequin coat

Dot Williams (Ashleigh Cummings) and Phryne Fisher (Essie Davis) in Miss Fisher’s awesome Hispano-Suiza motorcar.

When Phryne first met Dottie Williams, the latter was a mousy maid in an undesirable employment situation. Over the course of three seasons, Dot gradually evolves into a self-confident detective’s assistant. As she does so, her fashions gradually become more modern–although never as modern as Miss Fisher’s–and her colors become stronger.

Jack in his detective wear

Inspector Jack Robinson (Nathan Page) in his working day detective garb.

Phryne’s ally on the police force–and her partner in a slow burning and elegantly underplayed tango of attraction–is Inspector Jack Robinson (Nathan Page). Jack is almost always dressed noirishly, a good man walking the mean streets, so those occasions when he appears in civvies are always worthy of note.

 

 

Phryne and Dr. Mac

Fresh off the boat. Phryne Fisher, looking smart in her nautical ensemble, walking arm-in-arm with Dr. Elizabeth “Mac” Macmillan (Tammy Macintosh).

Phyrne as Cleopatra Close Up

Phryne as Cleopatra

Phryne Fisher (Essie Davis) rockin’ it as Cleopatra a la Claudette Colbert at her cousin’s fancy dress party.

Phryne Stilleto in Garter

Next to a gold-plated, pearl-handled revolver, a stiletto in the garter is the ultimate must-have accessory for the fashionable sleuth.